Domestic Goddesses

A. Arianrhod

She sacrifices her manicured hand
to the maw of the mixing bowl;
the one she scoured just hours before
is sticky again with a blend
of white flour and yolks. Did she add an
extra egg? Should she crack one more?
She stares into the grey carton’s hollows,
but can’t remember how many
survived breakfast, trembling in the fridge with
no hope of pecking through their shells.
She adds a dust of flour just in case.

Batter curls into the cake pan,
the uneven swirls settling to smoothness.
Trusting dessert to the oven’s
incubation, she can abandon her
apron and turn to the pile
of laundry seeping from the confines of
a wicker basket, muslin-lined.

The fishbowl’s contents burble hungrily;
somewhere an infant mews for milk—
but she’s daydreaming of organizing
life into labeled compartments,
colour-coded of course. Her pocketful
of new quarters echoes in the
basement. A damp spring day is brightened by
the chemical smell of bleach, the
pungent promise of purification.
She slips the coins into the slots
and stays to watch her whites turn whiter, quite
enchanted by the silver spin.

B. Blodeuwedd

Sunshine splits the clouds at last, calling for the
pulling back of curtains, but she
sleeps on, and the primrose-print draperies
pattern their shadows on her cheek.
It takes the frenzied chirps of wayward birds,
confused by the day’s springlike feel,
to coax her from the covers.
                                                Stains painting
the kitchen remind her of last
night’s debauchery. A spray of lilies
has drooped in anticipation
of a frost that failed to arrive as planned.
She suffocates them in the trash.
The soiled china submits to being
rinsed and cleansed by floral crystals
like the salts scenting her bath, decanted
under taps turned to full. Bubbles
rise to clamor in the corner, slick with oils.

Afternoon is negligible,
better cloaked in half-dark. The light becomes
less offensive when strained through gauze
and rose brocade. Her percolator perks
as commuters return from work,
sullen and drained.
                                  Distracted, she rests her coffee mug
on varnished oak, creating a
negative space, a white ring like the one
branding her left hand. A toe serves
to test the tub; her foot emerges blessed,
anointed. The front door opens.
She swivels her head to investigate,
smiles, and blinks her all-knowing eyes.

C. Cerridwen

Simmer means slow torture for the stirrer.
The arm’s flesh should have fallen off
the bone long ago; the nerves sizzle and pop.
She’d ask her daughter for relief,
but the girl won’t dirty her pretty hands.
The boy’s been confined to his room
until he wises up, and the help has
disappeared mysteriously.
have lost their steam; the laundry and mending
is multiplying, leaving all
adrift in a shabby sea of castoffs.
With her free hand she waves the mop
in surrender, but there’s no one to see
the limp white cry.
                                When at length the
children surface, begging for a snack, she
numbly spreads honey on wheat bread,
knowing well they’ll have no desire
for dinner—the oven-dried pork
they’ll bully around their plates, shoving the
meat into corners, favoring
applesauce instead. A hater of waste,
she’ll gobble theirs, building on her
overabundance of midsection flesh.

Her gut rolls and churns, hinting that
a bolted lunch of winter comfort food
has turned on her. The burners fume
and nauseate, stinging her eyes to tears.
Again, she struggles with the urge
to turn the three remaining jets on high
and burn the house to char and ash.
Fall 2004